The conference began on Thursday 8 April 2010 with young scholars. Mrs Sylvana Ranti-Apitulei of the Theological School of Jakarta could not come (illness) and instead we had a first paper by Steve Gaspersz of Ambon who writes a dissertation on the burger the middle class of Ambon society, descendants of slaves, but now most working as teachers, journalists, government officials.
Mrs. Sientje Loupatty-Latuputty presented her plans to write a dissertation about the Christian Churches in Indonesian Papua, concentrating on the last decades when the churches were not only active in the traditional fields of education and health care, but also took responsibilities in the field of agriculture, transport, and more development plans (in cooperation with international NGOs) and also entered politics as defenders of human rights (without supporting the radical movements for independence of Papua). She presented an impressive list of publications on the history of Papua Christian in the 20th century. Mrs Loupatty wants to see the study of history as a stimulus for the social relevance of the Christian churches in her region.
Not all participants presented their paper. Rev. Yuda Deferset Hawu Haba only gave his paper in a written form. He wrote a Master's Thesis in the island of Sawu, searching not for the results of the Christian mission, but for the continuation of traditional religion. So to say, looking for aspects of life where Christianity was not successful and where old traditions had continued. Most of these are related to the important moments of life: rituals at child birth, marriage, death, but also at planting and harvest. He is still thinking about further research for a doctoral dissertation.
Mrs. Dalia Alfred Riad Hanna was one of the handful of foreign participants who had no relation with Indonesia. She teaches at the American University of Cairo and is member of an evangelical church that started with the Dutch mission in Cairo in the beginning of the 19th century. That activity started in a Reformed even Calvinistic mood, but has now turned into more evangelical spirit. The first thing Mrs. Hanna told me was the strong rumour that more than five million Egyptians and other North Africans had embraced Christianity and considered Christ as their Saviour, but they remain hidden because of fear for the effects of their conversion in the Muslim society.
There were wonderful presentations about internet presentations of this history. Mrs Barbara Frey Näf gave amazing examples of the very rich collection of photographs that are now put on the internet and can be found through http://bmpix.org/bmpix/controller/index.htm. The example shown above is a picture of a mosque in West Africa, with the muezzin visible halfway the roof of this simple mosque.
Also for documents the Baseler Mission (now under the name Mission 21) is very friendly for researchers. They will put any document on the internet within two weeks after a request: see www.mission-21.org/archiv for more information. Tom van den End revealed that the Dutch Mission Archied of the Raad voor de Zending cover 350 linear meters, more or less the same size as the London Missionary Society. Basel stands out with 1,500 shelf meters.
Another programme that is very active on the internet is a documentation cen tre on the Papua Cultural Heritage PACE or Stichting Papua Cultureel Erfgoed. See for this www.papuaerfgoed.org.
The historian who has done most for the Archives of the Mission Council of the Dutch Reformed Church is definitely Thomas van den End. After working in Indonesia during the 1970s, he started in the 1980s a programme for the publication of missionary documents, (seconded by Chris de Jong and some others) and he wrote many of the entries for the present inventory of the archive as it is found in Utrecht. Therefore he is mentioned here as the first of the established authorities present (Aritonang will be mentioned in another entry here).